After the crisis, could B Corp Certification be the shot in the arm marketing needs?

After the crisis, could B Corp Certification be the shot in the arm marketing needs?

Cast your mind back to another epoch – pre-covid-19, when people in all industries gathered to discuss the leading issues of the day.

Back in January the PRCA hosted one of its most over-subscribed events ever. It was about helping marketers grasp the process and benefits of achieving B Corp Certification.

As a result of that meeting, many more marketing agencies are in the process of attaining certification and joining a community of 80,000 like-minded businesses globally. So what is it and could it be helpful in winning business once the green shoots return to industry?

What is B Corp?

For the uninitiated, certified ‘B Corporations’ have been through a rigorous process to ensure they meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, according to the organisation. It’s about using public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

B Corp has become a significant movement in the UK. And there are many in marketing who believe that once the covid-9 crisis subsides and business returns to near normal, being B Corp certified will be an essential passport to doing business in marketing services.

A passport to winning business?

Cast your mind back to pre-covid-19 and sustainability and purpose were at the top of the agenda. John Brown, CEO and Co-Founder of Don’t Cry Wolf, took his PR agency through the process of certification two years ago. He describes the process as “arduous” and believes that although the benefits are not immediate (in fact, there could be a lowering of profits he warns), it is an important investment for marketing services companies to make. With more large companies insisting they only work with ethical suppliers, he argues, certification has become a passport to participation.

“In pitches, more and more companies want evidence of how we impact the world today and we’ve encountered big company procurement processes that require evidence we’re monitoring our carbon footprint and other sustainability issues,” says John.

James Ghaffari

How to get certified

James Ghaffari, Director, B Corp Certification, says, “B Corp is a way of doing business. One of the benefits is it creates a community. It’s comprised of a diverse group of companies around the world trying to put people, planet and profit on the same level and be successful.”

Similar to ISO certification, the bedrock of the process is the Impact Assessment tool. It’s online, it’s free and maps the impact of your organisation across all areas, such as governance, the environment, community and customers. Think of it as a free sustainability audit.

Full certification is more taxing. John describes a process that “fundamentally changes your organisation”.

Depending upon how your Impact Assessment goes, certification can take from three to six months. It involves providing evidence to assessors on governance – from salary banding to gender structuring to your carbon footprint and impact on society.

One unexpected outcome of the process, says John, is the energising effect it can have on employees and the impact certification has on your employer brand.

“People are sick and tired of working for agencies that create beautiful CSR campaigns and then saying ‘Hey, we’ve flogged a great campaign but haven’t changed ourselves’,” says John.

So have sustainability and purpose been placed on the back burner?

The long-term view suggests that at the end of the covid-19 crisis, the workforce is likely to need reenergising. This pause in the system could offer a real opportunity; as companies make a credible commitment to sustainability, it could provide a much-needed shot in the arm for both marketing and business.